Cop Called To Arrest Shoplifting Woman Responds With An Act Of Compassion

"Officer Johns considered the situation and then made the decision to purchase the diapers out of his own pocket."

When Officer Bennett Johns of the Laurel Police Department in Laurel, Maryland was called to a local Giant grocery store to respond to an alleged shoplifting incident, he did something not many in his position would have the compassion to do. 

According to HuffPost, the alleged shoplifter was a young mother who had stolen $15 worth of diapers for her son after spending all of her money on food. Instead of arresting her, Officer Johns gave her a citation and purchased the diapers with money from his own pocket.

The officer's kind gesture was recounted in a July 22 Facebook post (which you can see below) on the Laurel Police Department's page. It has been liked over 2,700 times and received dozens of positive comments.

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"Officers responded for a shoplifting call at a grocery store and learned that a young mother, with her infant son, was caught by security attempting to steal two packs of diapers. After she purchased some groceries she did not have enough money leftover to buy the diapers," the post reads. "Officer Johns considered the situation and then made the decision to purchase the diapers out of his own pocket so that the young child would not suffer. It's worth noting that the female was still issued a criminal citation for the theft." 

The post continues, "Though it's but a snapshot of some of the work your officers are doing daily, we still wanted to take a moment to thank Officer Johns for not just fairly enforcing the law, but also showing empathy to an innocent child put in a difficult situation."

Audrey Barnes, Communications Director for the City of Laurel and the Laurel Police Department, tells A Plus Officer Johns decided to buy the diapers with his own money because he was all too familiar with the young mom's predicament. "[Officer Johns] was raised by a single mother and felt tremendous empathy towards this mom and her child," Barnes explains. "He knows first hand how hard it can be raising a child alone. He lived it."

Not surprisingly, Barnes says the Laurel Police Department has been "flooded with primarily words of praise from people nationwide after learning of Officer Johns' gesture." As one Facebook user put it, "Officer Johns is a great cop and great man. Compassion is one of the traits officers have but seldom get recognized for."

And even though some on social media took issue the citation Officer Johns gave this young woman, Barnes tells us "the grocery store wanted charges filed." Though that means the woman was cited and will have to go to court, the Laurel Police Department is doing everything in their power to "make sure she doesn't fall through the cracks." 

"We have referred her to Social Services so she can get help going forward," Barnes explains. "A local organization called LARS [Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services] is tailored made for this young mom. LARS serves family meals, they have a food and donation pantry, and offer many other services for struggling Laurel-area families."

Though Officer Johns deserves to be commended for his caring actions and desire to help someone in need, Barnes notes he is just one of many officers with a big heart. "This is the type of community policing that officers in the Laurel Police Department do every day and it's worth celebrating," she tells A Plus. "Just this weekend, an officer drove a young mom and her kids to a local hotel after their car was towed. The kids were nervous, so the officer joked with them and told them how cool the hotel was and about the free breakfast in the morning. They no doubt went to sleep dreaming about warm, fluffy pancakes thanks to our officer."

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